Kapiti Economic Development Association KEDA

Sophie Handford – Paekakariki-Raumati WARD

Sophie Handford – Paekakariki-Raumati WARD

  1. What do you consider to be the biggest opportunities and threats facing Kapiti over the next five to ten years?

Some of the challenges I see are dealing with the population growth which will come from Transmission Gully in a way which benefits the wellbeing and economy of or our community and the environment. This is an inevitable challenge but through proper long term planning and vision it can be a massive opportunity for development of our community’s character and economy. I also believe we have an opportunity to make the Kapiti District a leader on issues such as climate change. I see climate change to be one of the biggest threats in the next 5-10 years, with my generation’s future at stake.


  1. Economic growth has benefits for everyone living in the district. Kapiti needs a sound economic development strategy. How would you go about ensuring the strategy is developed and implemented and who should be involved?

I believe that the future of the Kapiti District will be shaped by its economic development and ability to accommodate and support its growing communities. I believe KEDA, the Kapiti Chamber of Commerce, and local businesses should all play an integral part in informing and shaping the vision of the future economic development strategy. In particular, I want to acknowledge the experience and work KEDA has done so far in supporting Kapiti’s future. The community also needs to have a strong voice into the development of this strategy and the vision it creates for our District. For this reason, I would ensure that community engagement is accessible to all members of our diverse community and also is frequent. In regards to implementation, this should be done alongside businesses, KEDA, our rangatahi, groups working on big community projects such as the Marine Discovery Centre.


  1. Will Kapiti have the infrastructure needed to support projected population growth? If not, what are the key priorities for infrastructure development?

I think a key priority is more affordable and social housing. We are currently in the midst of a nationwide housing crisis and it would be so disappointing to see our families be pushed north out of Kapiti due to increased demand of houses and therefore higher prices. I feel as though I have so much more to learn in this area so I am going to talk with the community and different groups to develop my understanding of the potential key priorities that our people see.


  1. Council has a goal of being “Open for Business”. What does this term mean to you and what can the Council do to ensure it achieves this goal?

To me, Open for Business means ensuring that the community and residents of Kāpiti are at the centre of all interactions. This involves actively breaking down barriers and seeking to make every interaction a positive one, with next steps and meaningful outcomes. With there being some huge opportunities for Kāpiti in the coming years, it is crucial that this open for business approach is implemented well, especially for those wanting to start doing business here in our wonderful district. It is important that we encourage and build people up instead of making it impossible for them to get anywhere in the system.


  1. Does Council have a role to encourage businesses to relocate or establish here? If so, what kind of support should Council offer?

I definitely think this is a role of Council. Council should create a fertile ground for businesses to grow here by developing their open for business approach and actively working to break down barriers to businesses relocating or establishing here currently. The StartUp Weekend and Pop Up Business School are both awesome initiatives which could be further grown in my opinion.


  1. How Important is it to tell the “Kapiti Story” and how would you go about supporting a project to do this?

Stories seem to be one of the best ways to connect people and engage them. I believe telling the story of our slice of paradise is key to not only connecting people in Kāpiti to each other but also so the rest of Aotearoa is aware of just how lovely it is here. I think this kind of project needs to be driven by the community and supported actively by the Council! Telling the Kāpiti Story would allow us to not only envision our district in its whole now but also into the future which is incredibly important.


  1. The future of the well-patronised Kapiti Community Centre is in doubt due to the discovery of leaks and mould in the building. Do you believe Kapiti needs a Community Centre? If so, what needs to happen to ensure that we have one?

I strongly believe a Community Centre is a key element to building a resilient community. Ultimately, a Community Centre must work for the community so a discussion needs to be lead by the Council with the community and this discussion should create really clear next steps.


  1. There has been much debate over the proposed Kapiti Gateway project. There are varying views on the need for a Gateway, the proposed cost and the proposed location. How would you work towards a solution that is acceptable to the various stakeholders, including Council, the community, retailers, visitors and affected parties?

I think it is really important that Kapiti showcases its wondrous natural resources and attractions for the benefit of the community here in Kāpiti, those visiting and the local economy. At the same time, I think it is important that the Council manages its finances in a fiscally responsible way that is putting the interests of its key stakeholders at the forefront of its plans.

All of these affected parties / stakeholders need to be at the table from the very beginning and there has to be willingness to compromise for the greater benefit of the Kapiti District. I think getting to the bottom of why people have differing views is important to because it could be then easy to find more common ground with fellow stakeholders.


  1. The Raumati Swimming Pool complex has been lying idle for some time. It has been proposed that the complex be used to develop a Marine Discovery Centre, which would have both local and national significance. Do you support the development of such a Centre? How should it be funded? Who should lead this project?

I support the development of a Marine Discovery Centre in the Raumati Pool Complex. I think this should be supported by Council to make it easy to carry out the initial stages of the project and that this project should be led by the community and people who are passionate and driven in the area of discovering our marine life. This has such potential as a project and I think with the right leadership, this would be a huge asset to the Kāpiti Coast.


  1. What are your views on the protection of our coastlines and key coastal infrastructure?

The crisis of climate change is at our doorstep. We can’t pretend that that our environment is not facing increasing coastal erosion, inundation, and inland flooding. Proactive measures of adaptation are necessary or the costs will be immeasurably high in the future. The future of the Kapiti region is at stake and long-term planning and preventive action will have massive economic and regional benefits for Kapiti. Council’s role in addressing this issue has already begun through its declaration of climate emergency. However, this declaration must now lead to action. We need strong advocates for Kapiti’s need with regional and central government along with action in addressing this area of concern. One key consideration which council should be looking into is the potential for dune restoration which is taking place around the country and acting as a sustainable and more cost effective natural barrier to coastal erosion.

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